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2018 Media Statements

NEHAWU Mourns The Passing Away of The Mother Of The Nation

Tuesday April 03, 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemns the high level of arrogance displayed by the North West Department of Health. Instead of engaging the union on the current impasse, the department has resorted to engage us through the media and using court interdicts to try to suppress genuine demands of workers.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has learned with great sadness last night of the passing away of a revolutionary freedom fighter, recipient of the Order of Luthuli in Silver and Mother of the Nation, Mama Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela-Mandela.

Mama Winnie was a caring individual who dedicated her life to the betterment of others. She was the first black social worker at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto after earning her degree in social work in 1965 despite severe restrictions on the education of blacks imposed by the apartheid regime. It is worrying that 24 years into our nascent democracy that social workers are not earning decent salaries, they work in horrible conditions and have to face a huge workload because our government refuses to fill funded vacant posts.

Her passing away should prompt especially young woman to deepen the mobilisation of the rural poor, working class women, women workers and women in other sectors of society and play a critical role in building a movement that will intensify the fight against the exploitation of women in any form in all centres of society. She was harassed by the apartheid regime and was subjected to constant arrests in a concerted effort by the regime to silence dissenting voice. In 2018, women continue to be victims of unfair labour practices, corrective rape, unpaid reproductive work and exploitative practices. In her honour, South Africans of all races, gender and class must unite to fight the scourge of patriarchy and gender inequalities.

Her passing away remains a wound in the hearts and minds of South Africans of all race, class and gender as she played a crucial role in the defeat of apartheid. She dedicated most of her life to the end of minority rule in South Africa and championed the ideals of the National Democratic Revolution. Mama Winnie fought gallantly for a non-racial, non-sexist and a prosperous South Africa. Even after her gallant fight the social ills imposed on our society by apartheid still remains prevalent.

These challenges, and those of unemployment, poverty and inequality, do not represent a defeat on the legacy and struggle of Mama Winnie, but a clarion call to the current generation that “It is our time to Fight” to ensure that her ideals lives on. Her passing away should prompt us to redouble our efforts in taking forth the struggle to build the type of society that Mama Winnie was prepared to die for.

As NEHAWU, we send profound condolences to her family, and those dearest to her, the ordinary South Africans.

Hamba Kahle Mama WeSizwe!!! Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500
or email: Visit NEHAWU website:

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